In our school, we refer to ‘Key Stage 3’ as The Wonder Years. We recognise that these are exciting years for our pupils. Before long, they will be saying goodbye to several subjects as they narrow their focus for GCSE. Before they do this we want them to experience the richness that each subject has to offer: the best of what has been thought and said. We believe that our pupils should have the opportunity to acquire deep knowledge in each of the subject disciplines and we see Year 9 as the year in which pupils will achieve the greatest depth in subjects they may well come to miss as adults.
As teachers, we have considered very carefully the purpose of our curriculum and together we have written this description of our curriculum and its intentions:
Our knowledge-rich curriculum will empower young people to succeed in a competitive world.
In support of our knowledge-rich curriculum, we have developed ‘knowledge organisers’ to accompany each unit of work. Subject leaders have carefully chosen the information which appears in the knowledge organisers. They have selected the most powerful knowledge; that which pupils will benefit from knowing as they move into GCSE and A level study. At the start of each topic, teachers share the knowledge organiser with the class. Pupils are expected to self-quiz from this document as they make progress through the topic. The goal is that at the end of the topic, pupils will have committed to memory the essential knowledge. In lessons, teachers plan activities to help pupils with this.
In the table below, you can see the spread of the curriculum in years 7-9. We have included information on how we group the pupils because we find that parents are keen to understand the rationale for our groupings.
We try to make decisions that are informed by evidence, but sometimes there is conflicting evidence! For example, we know that the most able pupils benefit slightly when they are taught in classes grouped by ability. We also know that ability grouping does not always benefit middle and low prior attaining pupils. For pupils with special educational needs and/or disabilities, it is important that they have opportunities to learn alongside pupils who do not have these challenges. We try to make balanced and ethical decisions and so we have ensured that there are opportunities for all pupils to work in a range of different groupings. Pupils are also grouped within the class, in a variety of ways, as best suits the activity. For example, pupils might work in mixed ability pairs for a discussion task and another time they might work on different tasks in groups based on their prior attainment.
We take great care to ensure that each form group brings together the full range of different learners.
|Timetable Allocations in Years 7-9|
|English||6 - 7||Pupils are grouped by prior attainment.|
|Mathematics||7||Pupils are grouped by prior attainment.|
|Science||6 - 7||Classes mirror the maths groupings.|
|History||3 - 4||Pupils are taught in form groups.|
|Geography||3 - 4||"|
|French||Dual linguists 2 |
Other pupils 0
|Dual linguists split their 4 lessons of languages between French and Spanish.|
|Spanish||Dual linguists 2 |
Other pupils 4
|All pupils study Spanish. Classes mirror the English groupings.|
|Design Technology||2||Pupils are grouped into smaller, mixed prior attainment groups.|
|Computing||2||Pupils are taught in form groups.|
|PE||4||PE is taught separately to girls and boys and pupils are grouped accordingly.|
* We operate a two-week timetable and so these lessons are spread across a fortnight.
In years 8 and 9, English and Science reduce from 7 to 6 lessons so that pupils can deepen their learning in History and Geography. We are conscious of the connections across these subjects. It is our aim that all pupils go on to study either History or Geography at GCSE. This is rebalanced during the GCSE years when pupils have more lessons in English and Science than they have for their options subjects.